John Burke is used to breaking records. He has amassed a career total of more than 1,220 points as a guard on the North Springs Spartans basketball team, handily exceeding the school’s former record of 1,065 points.
“It feels good to break a record,” Burke said. “It just encourages me to constantly strive and improve in basketball.”
In November, Burke led the Spartans to a 112-95 victory over the North Paulding Wolfpack. During the game, Burke racked up an astonishing 56 points and three steals for North Springs.
Burke, who has been playing basketball for more than a decade, continues to improve his skills daily. For about three hours each day, Burke works with a small group at a Dunwoody hotel gymnasium, where he is able to fine-tune his game and develop new techniques.
“Playing year round helps me improve all the time,” Burke said. “The more I play the better I can become.”
In order to improve his own game, Burke learns from some of Atlanta’s most accomplished basketball players, including 10-year-old prodigy Dakota Simms, who has received national and local media coverage.
“Learning the game never stops,” Burke said. “Every day and with everyone I practice with, I learn something new. It’s good to practice with others because they can point out your mistakes, and then I know to work on them.”
In addition to practices in Dunwoody, Burke is a member of two basketball teams. In addition to his play for North Springs, he plays for Georgia Elite, an Amateur Athletic Union team.
Even before he began playing basketball, Burke was already beginning to master the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. At age 10, Burke had already earned a third-degree black belt, the result of daily lessons. He has since, however, curtailed Taekwondo practice to focus on basketball.
Although he no longer practices Taekwondo, Burke devoted the majority of his summer to a research project that drew on some of his martial arts experience.
The study was conducted in order to determine the length of time required to become proficient at 13 separate techniques in martial arts. He compiled his research into an essay titled “Time needed to train for Self Defense,” which he presented to an international rehabilitation medicine forum in 2010, he said.
“I was involved because this study asked the question, ‘How long to get good enough?’” Burke explained. “It took me four years to get my black belt, but the study was supposed to determine how long it took to learn a small number of moves and be able to use them correctly and effectively.”
Burke has maintained a 3.5 GPA since enrolling at North Springs in 2008. Burke names history his favorite subject because he finds the material interesting.
“It gets difficult balancing basketball with school,” Burke said, “but they’re both important to me, so I find time for both even if that means I have to spend less time hanging out with friends.”
Currently, Burke is being considered for athletic scholarship from several universities. They include Duquesne University, Northwest Missouri State University, and United States Naval Academy. In addition to these schools, Burke is applying to the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.